" "

And here’s the reality of the situation. Not all carbs are created equal. There’s a lot of cleverly labeled and modified maltodextrin on the market claiming to be some technical polysaccharide. Or, there’s plain old cornstarch relabeled as super-duper muscle engorging waxy maize. Most of these aren’t proven to do anything except deliver false hopes, high blood sugar, and gut issues – as opposed to having multiple clinical studies in real athletes to support what it is they’re claiming. 

On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat, burning fat 24-7. When insulin levels become very low, fat burning can increase dramatically. It becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off. This is great if you’re trying to lose weight, but there are also other less obvious benefits, such as less hunger and a steady supply of energy. This may help keep you alert and focused.
So I was following a ketogenic plan for the past month in an effort to lose about 4-5% body fat and try to turn down the inflammation in my body to help with my hashimotos and psoriasis. I don’t eat meat, so it was ALOT of eggs (from the farmers market), primal mayo, wild caught salmon and cold smoked lox (vital choice), brain octane oil, coconut oil, avocado oil with VERY little carbs…like 85% fat, 10% protein and 5% TOTAL carbs. I was eating about 1100-1200cal per day and BELOW 18g TOTAL carbs…Couldn’t get above .6 in AM fasted blood ketones or below 80 fasted blood sugar. I do 90min of Ashtanga yoga (primary and half of second series) 5 days a week and 20-30min weight/HIIT style workouts about 3-4 days per week (Kettlebell, jump rope, plyometrics and free weights). I take Concentrac Trace Minerals along with my d3/k2, l-carnitine, l-glutamine, forskollei, green pastures butter/cod liver oil and probiotics. I have been at the Bulletproof Conference this weekend and I bought the new Bulletproof exogenous Ketones to try.
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
“Muscle loss on the ketogenic diet is an ongoing area of research,” says Edwina Clark, RD, a dietitian in private practice in San Francisco. “Small studies suggest that people on the ketogenic diet lose muscle even when they continue resistance training. This may be related to the fact that protein alone is less effective for muscle building than protein and carbohydrates together after exercise.” Meanwhile, according to a small study published in March 2018 in the journal Sports, people following the keto diet for three months lost about the same amount of body fat and had about the same muscle mass changes as people following normal diets. Yet the folks on keto did lose more leg muscle.

The keto diet is often called a fad diet. Make no mistake: it is. But unlike other trendy diets, the keto diet is unique because it actually pushes the body into an alternate, natural metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, you can reliably expect a few negative side effects, notably those that come with the "keto flu." But other side effects emerge only when people implement the keto diet poorly, typically by failing to eat balanced, nutrient-rich foods as a part of a high-fat, low-carb diet.


A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital[20] and followed-up by a report published in 2001.[21] As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment) was used. The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction, and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At 12 months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response, and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive, or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three, and four years was 39%, 20%, and 12%, respectively. During this period, the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction, and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free, but had had an excellent response.[21][22]
Ben, great article! I recently did my own ketosis experiment and didn’t catch the 100-200g advise until later than I should have, I’m guessing. Great results for 1-2 months but after 3 months I quit sleeping through the night and would wake after about 4 hours of rest each night. My guess is that the extra carbs at night coupled with iodine supplements should allow me to “have my cake and eat it too?” Any other suggestions on the sleep issue? I’ve gone back to High Fat/Low Carb, have improved sleep but I do miss nutritional ketosis and want to try again once my sleep is stable. Thank YOU!!!

Following the ketogenic diet and achieving ketosis may be beneficial if you’re living with type 2 diabetes and need to manage your symptoms. Limiting carbohydrate intake is crucial with type 2 diabetes because too many carbs can increase blood glucose levels, which can damage blood vessels and lead to vision problems, kidney problems, and nerve problems.
Ketone bodies are acidic, but acid-base homeostasis in the blood is normally maintained through bicarbonate buffering, respiratory compensation to vary the amount of CO2 in the bloodstream, hydrogen ion absorption by tissue proteins and bone, and renal compensation through increased excretion of dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.[9] Prolonged excess of ketone bodies can overwhelm normal compensatory mechanisms, defined as acidosis if blood pH falls below 7.35.
Why is the keto diet good for you? A keto diet is one that prioritizes fats and proteins over carbohydrates. It can help reduce body weight, acne, and the risk of cancer. Find out about the mechanisms through which it achieves these benefits and the research that supports it. This MNT Knowledge Center article also discusses the risks of the diet. Read now
And what I’m writing has nothing to do with taking supplements to induce ketosis or whatever. I believe these things are covered in Volek & Phoney’s book The Art and Science of Low Carb Living, which I would have thought you to be very familiar with. The iodine stuff you can read about in Iodine, Why We Need, Why We Can’t Live Without It by Brownstein.
Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.
Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits.1There are scientifically-backed studies that show the advantage of a low-carb, ketogenic diet over a low-fat diet. One meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets showed a large advantage in weight loss. The New England Journal of Medicine study resulted in almost double the weight loss in a long-term study on ketone inducing diets.
Hi Ben, great article. I have been a keto-adapted athlete for over 2 years, all through nutrition (65/25/10). I have recently discovered UCAN, KetoOS and MAP Aminos. So, here’s my question: If I am going out for a 4-hour ride, and I want to fuel myself just on these supplements and my body’s natural fat stores, how and in what order should I take them? If I take them all together, will the aminos in the KetoOS interfere with MAP Aminos? Or should I just make a mix of the UCAN and KetoOS in 10oz of water and use it to wash back my 6 MAP tablets, 15-mins before my ride? Thanks for your advice!
The ketone bodies are possibly anticonvulsant; in animal models, acetoacetate and acetone protect against seizures. The ketogenic diet results in adaptive changes to brain energy metabolism that increase the energy reserves; ketone bodies are a more efficient fuel than glucose, and the number of mitochondria is increased. This may help the neurons to remain stable in the face of increased energy demand during a seizure, and may confer a neuroprotective effect.[56]
Ketosis is deliberately induced by use of a ketogenic diet as a medical intervention in cases of intractable epilepsy.[12] Other uses of low-carbohydrate diets remain controversial.[14][15] Carbohydrate deprivation to the point of ketosis has been argued to have both negative[16] and positive effects on health.[17][18] Ketosis can also be induced following periods of fasting (starvation),[19] and after consumption of ketogenic fats (such as medium chain triglycerides[citation needed]) or exogenous ketones.[20]

MCT oil is extracted primarily from coconut oil, and derives unique benefits from its shorter fatty acid chain length. Most dietary fat contains 12 carbons in the fatty acid chain, while MCTs are only 6 - 12 carbon chains in length. Shorter chain length allows for easier absorption and rapid conversion to energy in the liver, specifically caprylic (C8) and capric (C10).


Short-term results for the LGIT indicate that at one month approximately half of the patients experience a greater than 50% reduction in seizure frequency, with overall figures approaching that of the ketogenic diet. The data (coming from one centre's experience with 76 children up to the year 2009) also indicate fewer side effects than the ketogenic diet and that it is better tolerated, with more palatable meals.[18][50]
This is the second shortest form of MCT, also rare and comprising about 8% of coconut oil. It is slower to turn into energy but less expensive than C8. XCT Oil is triple-distilled in a non-oxygen atmosphere with no solvents, and it contains C10 and C8, because these are the only two MCT oils that turn into ATP quickly without the liver. You would need 6 tablespoons of coconut oil to get one tablespoon of XCT oil.
I’m not sure if I really understand the idea of exogenous Ketones putting ones body into a state of KETOSIS, in that their own fat cells will be burned for fuel. Won’t the body just use the exogenous ketones and energy and continue to use glucose sources as well? How does taking ketones, make the body burn it’s own fat stores? I always thought that one would have to be in a state of energy deprivation for the body to actually begin to use the TG in the fat cells to generate ATP. Please let me know what I’m missing…
Exogenous ketosis comes from an external source. Consuming exogenous ketones, like a ketone drink containing a ketone ester or a ketone salt, raises blood ketone levels. The body isn't producing ketones in this state, but still remains in ketosis from having ketones introduced from an outside source. However, the body isn't ketogenic–that specifically means the body is producing its own ketones.
^ Ketogenic "eggnog" is used during induction and is a drink with the required ketogenic ratio. For example, a 4:1 ratio eggnog would contain 60 g of 36% heavy whipping cream, 25 g pasteurised raw egg, saccharin and vanilla flavour. This contains 245 kcal (1,025 kJ), 4 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate and 24 g fat (24:6 = 4:1).[17] The eggnog may also be cooked to make a custard, or frozen to make ice cream.[37]
I don’t know about you, but I find these risks pretty damn concerning. The fact is that I want to be around to play with my grandkids, and considering that my genetic testing with 23andMe has revealed that I have a higher-than-normal risk for type 2 diabetes, I doubt that shoving more gooey gels and sugary sports drinks into my pie hole is going to do my health any favors. So if I can achieve similar levels of performance and body composition with carbohydrate restriction, I’m all in.
A: The most common ways to track your carbs is through MyFitnessPal and their mobile app. You cannot track net carbs on the app, although you can track your total carb intake and your total fiber intake. To get your net carbs, just subtract your total fiber intake from your total carb intake. I have written an article on How to Track Carbs on MyFitnessPal.
So which MCT to pick? Brain Octane (pure C8) provides the fastest rise in ketones and burns the cleanest, with minimal gut irritation. XCT oil is more affordable but works more slowly with less direct cognitive effects. The capric acid C10 in XCT Oil doesn’t break down into ketones as quickly as pure caprylic C8, but capric acid C10 is more affordable, so you can save money by going with the XCT oil. XCT oil still goes to brain energy, just not as quickly as Brain Octane. Both can be used for energy without processing by the liver, unlike many other fats and oils.
The original therapeutic diet for paediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories[Note 1] to maintain the correct weight for age and height. The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of paediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant medications. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains, and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as nuts, cream, and butter.[1] Most dietary fat is made of molecules called long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). However, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)—made from fatty acids with shorter carbon chains than LCTs—are more ketogenic. A variant of the classic diet known as the MCT ketogenic diet uses a form of coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, to provide around half the calories. As less overall fat is needed in this variant of the diet, a greater proportion of carbohydrate and protein can be consumed, allowing a greater variety of food choices.[4][5]
After initiation, the child regularly visits the hospital outpatient clinic where they are seen by the dietitian and neurologist, and various tests and examinations are performed. These are held every three months for the first year and then every six months thereafter. Infants under one year old are seen more frequently, with the initial visit held after just two to four weeks.[9] A period of minor adjustments is necessary to ensure consistent ketosis is maintained and to better adapt the meal plans to the patient. This fine-tuning is typically done over the telephone with the hospital dietitian[19] and includes changing the number of calories, altering the ketogenic ratio, or adding some MCT or coconut oils to a classic diet.[18] Urinary ketone levels are checked daily to detect whether ketosis has been achieved and to confirm that the patient is following the diet, though the level of ketones does not correlate with an anticonvulsant effect.[19] This is performed using ketone test strips containing nitroprusside, which change colour from buff-pink to maroon in the presence of acetoacetate (one of the three ketone bodies).[45]
Fuels and feeds your brain: Ketones provide an immediate hit of energy for your brain, and up to 70% of your brain’s energy needs when you limit carbs.[6] Fat also feeds your brain and keeps it strong. Your brain is at least 60% fat, so it needs loads of good fats to keep it running.[7] Essential fatty acids such as omega-3s help grow and develop the brain, while saturated fat keeps myelin — the layer of insulation around the brain — strong so your neurons can communicate with each other.
Under these circumstances, as soon as the body’s limited reserves of glucose starts to run out, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost completely on fat. The levels of the fat-storing hormone insulin levels become very low, and fat burning increases dramatically. You thus get easy access your fat stores, and can burn them off. This is great for losing excess weight. Studies prove that keto diets result in more weight loss, faster. There are also more potential benefits.

Nutritional ketosis is a natural metabolic state in which your body adapts to burning fat rather than carbohydrates as its primary fuel. It is clinically proven to directly reduce blood sugar (as measured by HbA1c), improve insulin sensitivity (as measured by HOMA-IR) and reduce inflammation (as measured by white blood cell count and CRP). Nutritional ketosis can be induced by following a ketogenic diet. Learn more in our FAQ below!
The benefits above are the most common ones. But there are others that are potentially even more surprising and – at least for some people – life changing. Did you know that a keto diet can help treat high blood pressure, may result in less acne, may help control migraine, might help with certain mental health issues and could have a few other potential benefits?
^ Jump up to: a b Sinclair, H. M. (1953). "The Diet of Canadian Indians and Eskimos" (PDF). Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 12 (1): 69–82. doi:10.1079/PNS19530016. ISSN 0029-6651. It is, however, worth noting that according to the customary convention (Woodyatt, 1921 ; Shaffer, 1921) this diet is not ketogenic since the ratio of ketogenic(FA) to ketolytic (G) aliments is 1.09. Indeed, the content of fat would have to exactly double (324 g daily) to make the diet ketogenic (FA/G>1–5).

BHB is the primary ketone your body can most efficiently use as fuel during exercise and at rest (especially when you’re keto-adapted), it is the most stable of the ketones, and it is actually found in nature in many foods including eggs and milk. A “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate.


Adipose tissue can be used to store fatty acids for regulating temperature and energy.[21] These fatty acids can be released by adipokine signaling of high glucagon and epinephrine levels, which inversely corresponds to low insulin levels. High glucagon and low insulin correspond to times of fasting or to times when blood glucose levels are low.[23] Fatty acids must be metabolized in mitochondria in order to produce energy, but free fatty acids cannot penetrate biological membranes due to their negative electrical charge. So coenzyme A is bound to the fatty acid to produce acyl-CoA, which is able to enter the mitochondria.
Signs of diabetic ketoacidosis include a high blood glucose level, a high ketone level, dehydration, frequent urination, nausea, difficulty breathing, and dry skin. If you have poorly managed type 1 or type 2 diabetes, test your blood glucose level regularly before and after meals, and make sure you check your ketone level whenever your blood sugar is higher than 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). (11)
In nondiabetics, ketosis (also called nutritional ketosis) is regulated and controlled in the body so that ketone levels never reach the harmful levels associated with diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is an acute, life-threatening condition that occurs in severely uncontrolled diabetes (mainly type 1) when ketones rise to massive, supranormal levels.
-Nervous System Damage: It’s been shown that patients with neuropathy whose after-meal glucose readings were above the diabetic threshold sustained damage to their large nerve fibers. Even neuropathy patients whose glucose readings remained well within the normal range showed damage to their small nerve fibers. Studies have shown that within any blood sugar range, the higher the glucose, the greater the damage to nerve fibers.
Hello, I have a quick question. I’ve been on keto since March 2017. Already lost about 45 pounds, down to 140 at 5’7 and about 16.4% fat. I take a magnésium cap each morning to be sure I got enough and eat at least 1 serving of baby spinach a day with olive oil or fatty dressing that have no carbs. My last meal is always between 5 and 9 pm (mostly around 6) and I don’t eat back before 12pm the next day on week days and not before next dîner on week end. Fasting isn’t something new to me and when I read it help getting in ketosis I continued.
The DNA test does not necessarily take into account your goals (e.g. breathholding, Ironman, cognition, etc.) and if your goals would benefit from ketosis, then you may want to choose it as a dietary strategy even though it could indeed be true that for FAT LOSS a higher carb intake may suit you. So it all depends on your goals. Or you could just us the supplements like ketones AND eat more carbs and get "best of both worlds".
After initiation, the child regularly visits the hospital outpatient clinic where they are seen by the dietitian and neurologist, and various tests and examinations are performed. These are held every three months for the first year and then every six months thereafter. Infants under one year old are seen more frequently, with the initial visit held after just two to four weeks.[9] A period of minor adjustments is necessary to ensure consistent ketosis is maintained and to better adapt the meal plans to the patient. This fine-tuning is typically done over the telephone with the hospital dietitian[19] and includes changing the number of calories, altering the ketogenic ratio, or adding some MCT or coconut oils to a classic diet.[18] Urinary ketone levels are checked daily to detect whether ketosis has been achieved and to confirm that the patient is following the diet, though the level of ketones does not correlate with an anticonvulsant effect.[19] This is performed using ketone test strips containing nitroprusside, which change colour from buff-pink to maroon in the presence of acetoacetate (one of the three ketone bodies).[45]
Ideally, you combine supplemental ketones with a relatively low carb diet, especially if metabolic efficeincy is important to you. HOWEVER, you can achieve most of the benefits of ketosis aside from the fat burning efficiency by using exogenous ketones. So it all depends on how lean you are, what's important to you from a performance vs. fat loss standpoint, etc.

It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)


BHB is the primary ketone your body can most efficiently use as fuel during exercise and at rest (especially when you’re keto-adapted), it is the most stable of the ketones, and it is actually found in nature in many foods including eggs and milk. A “BHB salt” is simply a compound that consists of sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate.
The ketogenic diet is a mainstream dietary therapy that was developed to reproduce the success and remove the limitations of the non-mainstream use of fasting to treat epilepsy.[Note 2] Although popular in the 1920s and '30s, it was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs.[1] Most individuals with epilepsy can successfully control their seizures with medication. However, 20–30% fail to achieve such control despite trying a number of different drugs.[9] For this group, and for children in particular, the diet has once again found a role in epilepsy management.[1][10]
“To achieve the relatively high rates of intake (up to 90 grams/hour) needed to optimize results in events lasting longer than three hours, athletes should practice consuming carbohydrates during training to develop an individual strategy, and should make use of sport foods and drinks containing carbohydrate combinations that will maximize absorption from the gut and minimize gastrointestinal disturbances.”
Before starting, ask yourself what is really realistic for you, Mattinson suggests. Then get your doctor’s okay. You may also work with a local registered dietitian nutritionist to limit potential nutrient deficiencies and talk about vitamin supplementation, as you won’t be eating whole grains, dairy, or fruit, and will eliminate many veggies. “A diet that eliminates entire food groups is a red flag to me. This isn’t something to take lightly or dive into headfirst with no medical supervision,” she says.
-Cancer: Numerous studies have found that the risk for cancer increases with high blood sugar, which makes sense, since cancer cells feed primarily on glucose. This includes cancers of the endometrium, pancreas, and colon and colorectal tumors. Tim Ferriss recently hosted a fantastic article by Peter Attia about this very issue, and how ketosis may indeed be a potential cancer cure.

Weight loss benefits ushered the keto diet into the spotlight. That’s how most people have likely heard about ketones, a fuel source created naturally by the body when burning fat. But more and more research points to diverse applications of ketones in the blood outside of just fat loss, from improved endurance performance to the treatment of medical conditions like epilepsy.

The reason purity matters is that C17 is a byproduct of most MCT oil production processes, and it, along with C6, is a major cause of throat burning and gut irritation. Most MCT’s on the market are manufactured via chemical and solvent based refining, which involves using chemicals like hexane and different enzymes and combustion chemicals, such as sodium methoxide. But ideally, you should get an MCT oil that is made using triple steam distillation in a non-oxygen atmosphere to avoid lipid oxidation and create a purer end-product.
I just discovered your site and have been thoroughly enjoying many of the articles and appreciate that you get so in depth in your explanations. I’m in my late 40’s and, while not an extreme endurance athlete, I am moderately active with 18-20 mile rides 3x a week as well as some boxing and body weight resistance (push up, pull up, etc) mixed in. I’ve generally been paleo and stick to quality macros for the most part (grass fed meats/dairy, organic veg and oils) and zero supplements. I recently started following keto (after reading this article) about 10 days ago and things seem good thus far. I do, however, want to avoid any of the negative side effects you mention and also not lose any lean muscle. I’m currently about 174 lbs, 5’8″ and about 19% bodyfat – I’m taking in about 95g protein, 130g fat and <20g net carbs. I'm eating all quality – wild salmon, grass fed beef, pastured eggs, coconut oil, Brain Octane and Grass fed butter in coffee, sardines, etc. With a smattering of organic veg, but it seems real easy to bust through the carb barrier. *I'M ALSO TAKING KETOCANA PRE-WORKOUT* and I notice this is keeping me going throughout a ride or the gym.
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